Stroke risk and prevention

A variety of factors influence the chance that someone may have a stroke. Some risk factors are modifiable: risk of stroke can be reduced through changes to diet or level of exercise, for example. Others are not modifiable, such as age.

Non-modifiable risk factors:

Age: the chance of having a stroke more than. doubles every decade after the age of 55

Family history: If a close relative (parent, grandparent, brother or sister) has had a stroke, your risk is likely to be higher.

Ethnicity: While specific causes are unknown, people of African, African Caribbean and South Asian heritage have a higher risk of having a stroke.

Modifiable risk factors:

High blood pressure:  high blood pressure is present in the majority of people who have a stroke. Changes in diet and exercise; giving up smoking; and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can all help to reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also be treated with a variety of medicines. A diet that is high in fibre, fruit and fresh vegetables; low in salt, high fat and processed foods can help to reduce blood pressure levels.

High cholesterol: high cholesterol can make blood vessels clog up more easily, increasing the risk of stroke.

Lack of exercise: lack of regular daily exercise increases your risk of stroke.

Diabetes: diabetes also increases the risk of blood vessels clogging up, thus making a stroke more likely. The modifiable risk factors for type 2 diabetes are the same as for stroke. – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and low levels of exercise.

Sickle Cell Disease: people with sickle cell disease have a greater risk of having a stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation: people with an uneven heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) have a higher risk of stroke.  Atrial fibrillation is treated using anti-coagulation medication which reduces the risk of stroke.

Individuals can reduce their risk of stroke by:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Staying a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy, balance diet
  • Taking daily exercise.

For more information click here: